This healthy and nutritious vegan recipe takes fifteen minutes at the most including pasta cooking time. Perfect for a busy family’s midweek dinner or weekend lunch.
When I was at univeristy, I had a friend from Catalonia who had a completely different view of cooking to me. When I went vegan for the first time in 2008, it wasn’t really something people had heard of. My family were very critical of my decision and made it difficult to eat because of the constant criticism.
In hindsight, I think I must have hit a nerve and accidentally unveiled their own insecurities surrounding their food choices, because I don’t naturally evangelize and never have, I’ve always wanted to be left alone to eat what I want and not to be forced to eat something just because someone else thinks I ought to.
My friend and I went to stay with my dad for a couple of weeks in Edinburgh and he nonstop went on and on (and on, and on) about how veganism was stupid and pointless and the only way to eat was to be vegetarian (he brought me up vegetarian until my mum left him when I was 5).
My friend was a meat-eater but she always defended my decision to eat whatever I wanted. One day we went to the supermarket and I was stuck for ideas, she suggested I make a pasta salad. I confessed I had no idea how to make one. She told me that where she grew up, pasta salad wasn’t the same as here. It was literally pasta and salad, with dressing over both.
From that one comment, I came up with this delicious pasta salad which has been a staple in my lunchtime repertoire for the last 12 years.
Leafy vegetables of your choice. My favourites include iceberg lettuce, baby spinach, rocket and watercress. You can also buy ready-made salad bags with these things in them from the supermarket.
Pasta: Allow 80-100g uncooked pasta per person. I usually do it by eye these days.
Vegan soft cheese such as tofutti, scheese, violife (not as flavoursome as the others) or you could make your own homemade vegan soft cheese. Alternatively, you could use hummus, vegan pesto or something similar.
30g sunflower seeds (or other seed/nut of your choice. I like sunflower specifically because they’re high in calcium as well as protein)
Put the pasta on to boil. If you have a pinch of fresh thyme or oregano, add it to the pot!
When the pasta is cooked (8-10 mins, taste test if you’re unsure; it should be firm but not crunchy), drain and mix in a large dessert spoon of the soft cheese or hummus. Add more if you like your food saucier!
In a serving bowl, put your salad leaves, then add the pasta, and finally sprinkle the sunflower seeds on top.
Add more veg: Chopped tomatoes go well with this.